The TDUK points out that financial sanctions from multiple governments to exclude many Russian banks from the international SWIFT payment system has effectively shut many businesses out of international trade as payments cannot be made or received; the UK government has requested British ports to refuse entry for Russian owned or registered vessels; and the EU has imposed trade sanctions on Belarus covering multiple commodities including timber. 

It adds that these sanctions are already affecting the trade in timber and timber products and that many of its members have already released statements that they are ceasing trade with Belarus and Russia, and, most recently, PEFC stated that they are reclassifying Russian and Belarussian products as “Conflict Timber” and thus ineligible for certification. 

“We do of course realise that for some this [ceasing trading with Russia and Belarus] will not be easy,” said David Hopkins, TDUK chief executive officer. “But, right now the risks, financially and reputationally, are extremely high. NGOs are already calling for a total ban on timber trade with the two countries and many firms will not want ‘conflict’ timber in their inventories or buildings.” 

Mr Hopkins added that he had chaired a meeting for members of the European Sawmilling Organisation (EOS) and CEI Bois, the main European organization for the timber and woodworking industries. In it, he said, there was “unanimous support for the trade sanctions against Belarus and an expectation that these would soon be matched by equal measures against Russia”. 

“This will, of course, cause huge disruption to timber supplies into Europe and to the UK market. While direct imports into the UK are relatively small, Russia and Belarus account for about 10% of the softwood market in Europe. Removing this will make the available supply even tighter, causing potential shortages in some product areas.”

TDUK has released a trade note for its members looking into the impacts it expects in the UK and this will be updated as the situation develops.